The CV in many ways is like the ‘elevator pitch’. You have a limited amount of space to create as much interest as possible without knowing what your prospect is actually looking for. There are many companies who will compose a CV for you. We see these CV’s coming across our desks regularly. Whilst having a CV professionally compiled is an effective way of getting a quality document it will not make you unique.
Before we explore five key things that we would advise you consider when building your CV it is important to remember that this is one of the most important documents that you will ever create. Its presentation should be immaculate; you should treat this as seriously as a successful business would treat its website and other literature.
1 - Order
The order that you present the information on your CV is vital. The market place is currently candidate rich and employers may well see 30 CV’s for each vacancy. Some will only read the first page of each CV. If your first page is full of address details and personal statements then the employer will have no where to reference what you do in your current position. In such a situation the CV could be discarded before page two has been read. We would advise putting contact details at the end of the CV or in the footer. Our preferred order is Name, Statement, Key skills, Career History, Secondary & Tertiary skills, Qualifications, Contact details.
2 - Content
It is important to keep the content factual and remove emotion from the document where possible. If you have worked on a specific project detail length, value, deliverables and achievements / outcome. Tangible information is the key to grabbing many employers attention. Also include geographical coverage, reporting line, and details of managerial responsibilities where applicable. Avoid writing in the first person, it uses more words and reduces impact. We also encourage candidates to remove the personal interests section of the CV, there can be benefits to including this section if it proves to be a common ground but we often find it to be irrelevant.
3 - Context
Set the scene for the reader when explaining your achievements within each role. If you worked on a major project it is important to define your specific responsibilities. One complaint that we frequently hear from clients is around the term
‘Was part of a team that delivered…’
this is vague and leaves the client in the dark as to the level of responsibility the individual had. When describing major projects that you have contributed towards, we advise that you should explain your personal key objectives for that project.
4 - Lay out
The lay out of the document should be easy to read. Avoid unusual fonts in unusual sizes. Bullet points complement the way that many clients score CV’s and make it easy for the employer to go back and find a specific nugget of information that was of appeal. The document should look like a CV so resist attempting to re-invent the wheel; it is more likely to hinder your chances than enhance them.
5 - Length
Typically candidates are advised to keep the document to two or three pages. This is good practice. Many candidates that we deal with have two documents, a concise and a detailed version of their CV. If you choose to follow this method then it is best to keep the concise version to two pages as some clients will insist that the CV is a maximum of two pages. The detailed version can be advertised at the bottom of the concise CV so that the client can request it if they wish to further explore your credentials.
Once you have created a new CV pass the document to people within your professional network and ask them for ideas of how it can be improved. When you have a final draft that you are ready to circulate keep a record of the number of applications that you make using it and how many interviews it generates. Such statistics will give you an idea of how well received the document is.